The announcement today by the Obama administration delaying a final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2012 elections gets President Barack Obama out of a jam that pitted two key constituencies for him, labor unions and environmentalists, against each other, but it received an immediate rebuke from the GOP.
Obama portrayed the decision as one guided by health and safety. “We should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood,” he said in a statement.
But the GOP — and business leaders — pounced.
“More than 20,000 new American jobs have just been sacrificed in the name of political expediency,” Speaker John Boehner said in a statement.
“By punting on this project, the President has made clear that campaign politics are driving U.S. policy decisions — at the expense of American jobs,” the Ohio Republican said. “The current project has already been deemed environmentally sound, and calling for a new route is nothing but a thinly-veiled attempt to avoid upsetting the President’s political base before the election. It’s a failure of leadership.”
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue also ripped the decision, saying the project has already been well-studied.
“This is clearly a political decision, and everyone knows it,” he said.
But Robert Redford, a trustee at the National Resources Defense Council, praised Obama. “This is American democracy at its best: a President who listens to the voice of the people and shows the courage to do what’s right for the country,” he said. “Thank you, Mr. President, for standing up to Big Oil.”
The decision came just a few days after activists protesting the pipeline surrounded the White House.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.